Decoding the ubiquitin-mediated pathway of arthropod disease vectors

PLoS One. 2013 Oct 21;8(10):e78077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078077. eCollection 2013.


Protein regulation by ubiquitin has been extensively described in model organisms. However, characterization of the ubiquitin machinery in disease vectors remains mostly unknown. This fundamental gap in knowledge presents a concern because new therapeutics are needed to control vector-borne diseases, and targeting the ubiquitin machinery as a means for disease intervention has been already adopted in the clinic. In this study, we employed a bioinformatics approach to uncover the ubiquitin-mediated pathway in the genomes of Anopheles gambiae, Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus, Ixodes scapularis, Pediculus humanus and Rhodnius prolixus. We observed that (1) disease vectors encode a lower percentage of ubiquitin-related genes when compared to Drosophila melanogaster, Mus musculus and Homo sapiens but not Saccharomyces cerevisiae; (2) overall, there are more proteins categorized as E3 ubiquitin ligases when compared to E2-conjugating or E1-activating enzymes; (3) the ubiquitin machinery within the three mosquito genomes is highly similar; (4) ubiquitin genes are more than doubled in the Chagas disease vector (R. prolixus) when compared to other arthropod vectors; (5) the deer tick I. scapularis and the body louse (P. humanus) genomes carry low numbers of E1-activating enzymes and HECT-type E3 ubiquitin ligases; (6) R. prolixus have low numbers of RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligases; and (7) C. quinquefasciatus present elevated numbers of predicted F-box E3 ubiquitin ligases, JAB and UCH deubiquitinases. Taken together, these findings provide novel opportunities to study the interaction between a pathogen and an arthropod vector.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / genetics
  • Aedes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anopheles / genetics
  • Anopheles / metabolism
  • Arthropod Vectors / genetics
  • Arthropod Vectors / metabolism*
  • Arthropods / genetics
  • Arthropods / metabolism*
  • Computational Biology
  • Culex / genetics
  • Culex / metabolism
  • Culicidae / genetics
  • Culicidae / metabolism
  • Disease Vectors
  • Genome, Insect / genetics
  • Ixodes / genetics
  • Ixodes / metabolism
  • Pediculus / genetics
  • Pediculus / metabolism
  • Rhodnius / genetics
  • Rhodnius / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*


  • Ubiquitin